When we’re talking healthy food, the conversation seems to always go back to moderation, but what about when it comes to exercise? Are extreme exercise regimens like CrossFit and distance running as healthy as they’re touted to be?
Not too long ago I ran across an article on CrossFit shedding light on what it called a “dirty little secret.” The gist of the article is that because of the way that CrossFit trainers push clients to push themselves to the limit and beyond, people who do CrossFit have ended up seriously injured. The article talks about the prevalence of a condition called exertional rhabdomyolysis, where extreme exercise causes long-term and sometimes permanent damage to the muscles and kidneys.
The whole thing made me wonder about other areas where we push our endurance, like distance running. I love running, and I love the satisfaction of having run distances. In fact, I’ve touted the joys of distance running in this space more than once. This CrossFit article has me questioning any kind of extreme endurance training: how far is too far?
Related Reading: 3 Running Programs to Push You to the Next Level
I’d never had the distance running issues that some folks report during marathon training, like losing my toenails or losing control of my bowels or bladder, but as I read this article on CrossFit, I couldn’t help thinking that some of the things they say are similar to the addages that go along with distance running, especially the idea that injury is just part of the package. In fact, there is research suggesting that running long distances can take years off of your life.
The way the author describes CrossFit culture also reminded me of Bikram Yoga in some ways. Bikram and other hot yoga methods use a warm room to help relax muscles. It allows you to stretch further, but it also makes you more prone to injury. I practiced Bikram for years and definitely overdid it more than once.
CrossFit, Distance Running, and Yoga: How much is healthy?
Along with doing a lot of reading about these three endurance exercise routines, I also took an informal poll of about a dozen people who do CrossFit (special thanks to my friend Shannon Hoffman Hinderberger for connecting me with her CrossFit friends!).